21st of May, 'The Day of Naval Glories' in Chile

Chile Battle of Iquique Day (Día de las Glorias Navales)

Every 21st of May the Chilean Navy commemorates the legendary bravery of Captain Arturo Prat and the crew of the Esmeralda at the Battle of Iquique in 1879 and England pays its annual tribute at the grave of Admiral Thomas Cochrane, the 10th Earl of Dundonald and wreaths are laid by HE the Ambassador of Chile and by the First Sea Lord.


Admiral Thomas Cochrane (1775-1860) had a truly remarkable career as a naval officer and a politician. One of the Royal Navy's most audacious and feared commanders during the Napoleonic Wars, he went on to command the Chilean, Brazilian and Greek navies, helping these countries in their fight for independence.


This national holiday in Chile is often called Día de las Glorias Navales in Spanish ("The Day of Naval Glories"). From 1879 to 1881, the Chilean navy fought an alliance of Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (also known as the Chile-Peruvian War). The war grew out of a dispute over export tariffs that Bolivia levied on Chile for nitrate deposits mined in Bolivia's Atacama Province. Peru joined the Bolivian side, and the Chilean navy blockaded the Peruvian port of Iquique. The Chilean victory in the Battle of Iquique on May 21, 1879, was a turning point in a war that Chile eventually won decisively.


The holiday is celebrated throughout Chile with festivals, military parades, and speeches. Sporting events, including boat and bicycle races, are held in honour of the holiday. Many people dress in traditional costumes as a symbol of national pride.